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Moxibustion for Breech


Moxibustion 2

As expectant mothers approach their due dates, the optimal position for the baby is head-down, also known as a cephalic presentation. However, in some cases, the baby may be in a breech presentation, where their buttocks or feet are positioned to come out first. This can increase the risk of complications during labour and may result in a higher likelihood of a caesarean section. While medical interventions like external cephalic version (ECV) are available, there is growing interest in natural methods like moxibustion for turning a breech baby.

Understanding Moxibustion

Moxibustion is a technique rooted in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that involves the burning of a small, spongy herb called mugwort (Artemesia argyi). The heat produced by moxibustion is applied to specific acupuncture points, stimulating them and promoting various therapeutic effects. Moxibustion is often used in conjunction with acupuncture but can also be used independently.

Why Moxibustion for Breech Presentation?

Moxibustion has gained attention as a potential alternative to medical interventions like ECV and caesarean section for turning a breech baby. It offers several advantages, including the ability to avoid invasive procedures and empower women in making informed choices about their birthing experience. In clinical practice, moxibustion has shown promising results, with success rates ranging from 65% to 72.5%, surpassing the success rates of ECV. Additionally, moxibustion can be incorporated into antenatal education, allowing parents to actively participate in the process.

The Theory Behind Moxibustion

To understand why moxibustion may be effective in turning a breech baby, it’s essential to explore the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). TCM operates on the concept of meridians, energy lines that connect various tissues and organs in the body. These meridians have specific acupuncture points that can be stimulated to balance the flow of energy (Qi) and blood. In the case of breech presentation, the meridians involved are the Kidney (YIN) and Bladder (YANG). By applying moxibustion to the Bladder 67 acupoint, known as Zhi Yin, the balance can be restored, promoting the downward energy necessary for the fetal head to move into the optimal position.

The Mechanism of Action

The exact mechanism of how moxibustion works to turn a breech baby is not yet fully understood. However, there are several hypotheses based on TCM principles and scientific research. Moxibustion is believed to increase stress hormones like adrenaline and noradrenaline, which can enhance the immune system and stimulate the production of prostaglandins. This hormonal response may lead to increased myometrial sensitivity, resulting in a rise in fetal activity and energy. Additionally, moxibustion is thought to warm the uterus, creating an environment more conducive to fetal movement.

The Moxibustion Procedure

Moxibustion for turning a breech baby is typically performed from 34 to 40 weeks of gestation, with research suggesting that the optimal gestational age is between 33 and 35 weeks. The procedure involves holding moxa sticks near the Bladder 67 acupoint for approximately 30 minutes, moving them from side to side. It’s important to ensure that you are in a comfortable position, your bladder is empty, and you are wearing comfortable clothing. The moxa sticks should be removed if it becomes uncomfortably hot for a few seconds and then reapplied using a pecking action. The recommended duration for the procedure is 15 minutes on each toe at Bladder 67, twice a day, for 7 to 10 days, although it can be extended up to 14 days.

The Role of Spleen 6 in Turning a Breech Baby

According to TCM, stimulating Spleen 6 may help encourage the baby to turn into the head-down position. It is believed that applying pressure to this point can activate the energy meridians associated with the uterus and pelvis, promoting optimal fetal positioning.

By stimulating Spleen 6, the body’s energy, or Qi, is believed to flow more smoothly, helping to create an optimal environment for the baby to reposition itself. This technique is non-invasive, safe, and can be performed at home with the guidance of a healthcare professional or an experienced acupuncturist.

Techniques for Stimulating Spleen 6

When it comes to stimulating Spleen 6, there are different techniques that can be used. One common method is acupressure, where gentle pressure is applied to the point using the fingertips or a rounded object. This can be done in a circular motion or by holding steady pressure for a few minutes.

It is important to note that these techniques should be performed by or under the guidance of a trained professional to ensure safety and effectiveness.

Research and Evidence on Spleen 6 for Breech Presentation

While there is limited scientific research specifically focused on Spleen 6 for turning a breech baby, there are anecdotal reports and case studies that suggest its potential benefits. Many women have reported successful outcomes after using Spleen 6, either alone or in combination with other techniques.

Risks and Precautions when Using Spleen 6 for Breech Presentation

While stimulating Spleen 6 is generally considered safe, there are some precautions to keep in mind. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional before attempting any techniques, especially if you have any underlying medical conditions or complications during your pregnancy.

Additionally, it is crucial to ensure that the person performing the stimulation is experienced and knowledgeable in acupressure techniques. They should be able to provide proper guidance and ensure the correct application of pressure.

Contraindications and Precautions

While moxibustion is generally safe, there are certain contraindications and precautions to consider. Maternal contraindications include a previous cesarean section within the past two years, a history of preterm labour, multiple pregnancies, antepartum haemorrhage, diabetes mellitus, ruptured membranes, abnormal liquor volume, elective caesarean section, pyrexia, hypertension, and respiratory conditions. Fetal contraindications include cephalopelvic disproportion, intrauterine growth restriction, intrauterine fetal death, unstable lie, fetal distress, and fetal abnormality. It is crucial to ensure that moxibustion is performed by a trained practitioner and in a setting where monitoring and surgical delivery facilities are available.

Evidence-Based Research on Moxibustion

Numerous studies have examined the efficacy of moxibustion for turning a breech baby, providing valuable evidence on its effectiveness. Cardini et al. conducted multiple studies and reported success rates ranging from 80% to 90% and 66%. Other research studies, such as those by Berg et al., Sananes et al., and Kanakura et al., have shown positive results with success rates ranging from 72% to 92%. A systematic review by Liao et al. further supported the positive effects of moxibustion in correcting breech presentation. While the exact success rates may vary, the overall evidence points to the potential benefits of moxibustion in facilitating cephalic version.

Other Alternatives for Breech Presentation

In addition to moxibustion, there are other alternative methods that women can consider for turning a breech baby. Acupressure, shiatsu, and acupuncture techniques involving manual stimulation or needling of specific points, such as Bladder 67, and SP6 (spleen 6) have shown promising results. Ginger paste or oil, known for its warming properties, can be applied to the Bladder 67 point overnight. Movement-based strategies, can also play a role in helping a breech baby to turn. With biomechanics the importance of balance, alignment, and movement to support optimal fetal positioning and encourage the baby’s rotation and descent through the pelvis, should not be underestimated. Techniques such as inversions, hands-and-knees positions, and forward-leaning inversions can be beneficial in facilitating the movement of a breech baby. (Guittier et al 2008). Reflexology, homeopathic remedies, herbal medicine, chiropractic techniques like the Webster technique and hypnosis are other suggestions.  It is important to consult with trained practitioners and consider individual circumstances before trying these alternative methods.

Complementary Therapies for Caesarean Section

Complementary therapies can also play a role in supporting women undergoing a caesarean section. Relaxation therapies like massage, aromatherapy, reflexology, hypnosis, and homeopathy can help promote a calm and positive birthing experience. However, it is crucial to note that all herbal medicines should be stopped two weeks before an elective caesarean section to avoid potential complications.


Moxibustion, along with other alternative methods, offers a natural and empowering approach for women with breech presentation. The evidence supports its effectiveness in turning a breech baby and reducing the need for medical interventions like ECV and caesarean section. However, it is important to remember that natural remedies do not guarantee success in all cases, and individual circumstances should be considered. Consulting with trained practitioners and discussing options with healthcare providers is essential for making informed decisions about the best course of action. With a holistic approach that combines medical expertise and complementary therapies, women can optimize their chances of achieving a cephalic presentation and a positive birthing experience.

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